The Stream, April 17: Hong Kong Debates New Water Supply Agreement

The Global Rundown

Lawmakers in Hong Kong question whether the city should renegotiate its water supply deal with China. Inadequate water flows in the Teesta River are complicating a water sharing agreement between Bangladesh and India. Talks between India and Pakistan over disputed hydropower projects in the Indus Basin have stalled again. A drought in Florida has prompted a water shortage warning for millions of people. A new study suggests the world’s lakes are shallower and hold less water than previously thought.

“No matter how much you use, you are paying for this fixed amount. But in reality, do we really need that much water? In the past 10 years, there was only one year when we used up to some 90 percent of the guaranteed water supply.” –Helena Wong Pik-wan, a lawmaker in Hong Kong, arguing that the city should renegotiate the way it pays for its water supply from Guangdong, China to more accurately reflect use. The water supply agreement is set to expire this year. (South China Morning Post)

By The Numbers

1,600 cubic meters per second Estimated amount of water necessary to irrigate farmland along the Teesta River in India and Bangladesh during the dry season. Officials say the amount of water available, however, totals only 100 cubic meters per second, complicating a water sharing agreement between the countries. The Third Pole

8.1 million people Number affected by a water shortage warning in southern Florida, where a drought could lead to mandatory water restrictions. Associated Press

In context: U.S. irrigation is pushed eastward by drought and financial risks.

Science, Studies, And Reports

The average depth of lakes around the world is likely 30 percent below previous estimates, according to a study published in Geophysical Research Letters. “Our study emphasizes the relative scarcity of lake water, and how rapidly human activities can change the quality and quantity of water resources,” said David Seekell, one of the study’s authors. Science Daily

On The Radar

Talks between India and Pakistan to resolve differences over planned hydropower projects in the Indus River Basin may be postponed. India is requesting further discussion about the technical aspects of the Kishanganga and Ratle projects before continuing a conflict resolution process under the Indus Water Treaty. The Economic Times

In context: Hydropower projects spark discord in the Indus River Basin, but water management challenges go deeper.